The other day I performed at my Wednesday night open mic event and was having a really fun time. I often mess with the audience, dish out a few sarcasms and play a “lot of music.” This past Wednesday someone had come into the club and looked “vaguely familiar.” He came up to me and said “Remember me?” He was a drummer from way back in the day who had played professionally but had “disappeared from the music scene.” I had not seen this man’s face in close to 30 years. There was a reason for that: “He went to jail for murder…” I won’t mention his name, but many years ago this man was playing for a professional group but before this one big gig he decided to visit a female DJ and get high with her. She was brutally knifed to death, but right afterwards he went to play the gig. He was wearing her sweatshirt and had blood stains on him. The police arrived there and patiently waited for him to finish the gig before arresting him. While he was in prison a vicious rumor had been put out that he was stabbed and killed in prison. Naturally, when I saw him I wasn’t sure of what to say to him. As good as it was to see him again, I just couldn’t put the thought out of my mind that this guy was a convicted murderer. He told me that he had done 28 years and he was now free. Of course, he appeared much older and a little more sedate (He had a wild personality before and got agitated easily). Now he was trying to let everyone know that he was “back.” The places he used to play before his incarceration were no longer in existence. The original members from the professional group he used to play for were all deceased now. The world he once knew was now extinct. He obviously wants to get back into the music scene, but will anyone let him? There are a plethora of great younger drummers out here, and their skills are much more precise than his. I allowed him to play a number with us that night, and while he played the song correctly, his skills still needed to get some of the “rust off.” We talked for a little after the gig was over, and he told me that he is just trying to get back into the music scene. I wish I could hire him for something, but I already have a cell phone full of great drummer’s numbers that I can readily call (and I know they can cover the gig). When someone goes through an experience like that, how easy would it be for you to accept him or her back? Do you think you could feel comfortable working with someone who did time for manslaughter? I try not to judge anyone, because I feel that no one is perfect and we all would like second chances. He wasn’t that great of a friend to me 28 years ago, so it feels uncomfortable trying to accept him as my friend now. I will give it a shot, though. I may not have any gigs for him now, but if he can make the adjustment to his new freedom then I would definitely consider him in the “not too distant future.” Sometimes a little time can make for a proper healing. The easiest thing in the world to do is judge someone based on his or her past. It’ a new day… With it should hopefully come a “new spirit…” Thank you for checking out my Daily Thought, and as always I wish the very best to you that life has to offer.
Harold Melvin’s Bluenotes and Brett Jolly in concert